Submitted by Washington Military Department

Washington residents have a chance to practice their earthquake readiness on October 19 during the Great Washington ShakeOut – a time when communities, families, businesses and schools practice their drop, cover and hold on skills and do on more thing, such as adding to their emergency supplies.

Great Washington shakeout
October 19 is the Great Washington Shakeout to help students, facility and parents know what to do when an earthquake happens. Photo courtesy: Washington State Military Department

The Washington Emergency Management Division is no longer recommending residents be three days prepared, but, instead, be two weeks ready – in case of a big earthquake. Some communities may need even more emergency supplies.

Chris Reykdal, the state superintendent of public instruction, will join students in the White River School District in Buckley for their drill and will talk emergency preparedness with school leaders. More than 600,000 students, teachers and school staff have signed up for the annual ShakeOut event.

“We live in one of the most beautiful states in the country,” Reykdal said. “But living here has seismic risks. It’s crucial for students to know how to respond if there is an earthquake. I’m excited to be at White River and see how students practice their drop, cover and hold skills.”

Last year, more than 1.1 million residents signed up for the state’s largest earthquake drill. Registration at shakeout.org/washington isn’t required, but helps us tally up how many are participating. In addition, tsunami alert sirens will be tested on October 19 at 10:19 a.m. using the real sound of the siren, not the Westminster Chimes that typically happen during the monthly tests. NOAA weather radios set to receive the required monthly test will also activate during this test. The tests will happen across every coastal community in the state, except for Sandy Point in Whatcom County, which has opted out of the test.  The state works with local jurisdictions to install the All Hazard Alert Broadcast sirens on the coast. Five new sirens are being installed this month in Seabrook, Ocean Shores, Bellingham, Port of Chinook and Raymond bringing the total number of coastal sirens to 69.

Preparedness will be key in surviving the next big earthquake to hit the Pacific Northwest. That means being prepared for what you need and where you live – with up to two weeks’ worth of supplies and an emergency “go” kit. For those living on the coast, know your evacuation routes and the warning signs for tsunamis – including how NOAA Weather Radios work and the coastal sirens.

This is Washington State’s sixth year of participation in the Great ShakeOut initiative.

New this year, middle school and high school students are creating videos to show the best ways to drop, cover and hold on. Prizes are being awarded by our partners at the Cascadia Region Earthquake Workgroup. The deadline to submit is Oct. 13. More information found here: https://www.mil.wa.gov/uploads/pdf/video-contest.pdf

Question and Answer sessions with earthquake experts will be done using Facebook Live and Washington Emergency Management’s Nextdoor account in the days before ShakeOut. On Oct. 19, from noon to 2 p.m., earthquake preparedness experts from the Washington Emergency Management Division will join scientists with the Washington Department of Natural Resources and the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network to gather online for a Reddit Ask Me Anything – an online Q&A. The public is invited to ask questions at https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/

We also encourage participants to take photos of themselves participating in the drill and post those photos to social media using the hashtag #ShakeOut or tag our Twitter account at @waShakeOut.

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